For many fans of progressive and avant-garde rock music, Magma would surely stick out as a notable band of the genre. The French musicians came together in 1969, formed by Christian Vander, and have since crafted a legacy of music appreciated and admired by many. Catching the band performing live is something of a rare occurrence, especially in Australia, but next month Magma will be in Adelaide (along with Seattle’s SUNN O)))) for an unmissable exclusive show as part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts.
We find out more about the show and the band, for those who may be approaching Magma for the first time!
First off, for those who may not have heard of you yet, how would you describe your music? What is Magma’s sound?
I will quote , an American journalist:
“Magma’s music is very strange, beautiful, and ultimately rewarding, but it does require an open mind on the part of the listener. It is music that must be experienced fully with body, heart and soul: not simply a cerebral performance of some kind of space opera by clever musicians, but a full blown spiritual experience with the music acting as the connecting vehicle between performer and listener.”
Tell us about Kobaïan, and how you came up with it. Why did you decide to sing some of your lyrics in a constructed language?
French wasn’t expressive enough for the sound of the music I had in my head. Kobaïan is a language that is constantly evolving and the sounds/words come organically when I am composing. However, some sounds/words come back and after a while, we can decipher the meaning. The words are written to fit to the music, to make it sound right.
It is clear that Magma has been and continues to be a wonderful influence on many musicians. Who or what have been your biggest sources of inspiration?
John Coltrane. It’s the energy, the fury of playing, construction, the “sound”, the long-term vision that inspired me. The music of John Coltrane is an inexhaustible source, a force that conquers all. There is something else in his music that goes beyond. If John’s music was only music, it might have worn me out. He certainly opened the door to a world we did not know. It’s probably this unbridled spiritual quest that led him there. For these reasons, I listen to John regularly. He accompanies me in every period of my life, I always hear his music differently, I re-discover him every time and it always fascinates me.
You will be coming to Australia as part of the Adelaide Festival of the Arts, playing alongside Sunn 0))). Tell us a little bit about that. What can audiences expect?
We won’t be playing together, although it could have been an experience. We’re going to play emblematics pieces from the seventies and also our last album, Slaǧ Tanƶ.
Who are you most excited to see at the festival?
Unfortunately we’ll be staying only three days in Australia, so I don’t think we’ll have time to see a great deal of shows. We’ll need to recover from the long trip and try and deal with jetlag!
Playing with Sunn 0))) must be a definite highlight in your career. Are there any other bands you would like to perform with, that you haven’t already?
Greg Anderson and Steven O’Malley are big Magma fans. They invited us to share the stage for the first time at Le Guess Who festival in Holland last November and it looks like after Adelaide, we’ll be sharing the stage again. Bands like Tool would make an interesting match. We have quite a lot of fans among the metal followers. So why not play with Metallica?
Are you working on anything new at the moment? A new album perhaps? What can fans expect of Magma this year and in the years to come?
Last studio albums has been released in January 2015. This year we will be touring again quite a lot, so no studio work is planned. We’ll work on a new studio album in 2017. We’ll be working as well on our project MAGMA METALIK ORKESTRA, which is basically playing with music school students.
Undeniably, there will be a lot of Australian fans who won’t be able to make it to Adelaide this year. Any chance of Magma coming back for an Australian tour?
We would love to tour Australia in the future, if we are invited to do so.
Magma and SUNN O))) perform at the Thebarton Theatre in Adelaide on March 12th. Grab your tickets here!